Watermen’s Hall, 160m ENE of St Magnus the Martyr’s Church.
Reasons for Designation
A guildhall is traditionally the hall and meeting place of a crafts, trade, or merchants’ guild, although in the 19th century they became associated with, and often recognised as, town halls. Guildhalls were built in the medieval period but they became more widespread in the 17th and 18th centuries. The classic form was often a first-floor meeting room, raised on arcades, incorporating an open-sided market hall on the ground floor. They also often included administrative rooms or offices. During the eighteenth century increasing architectural elaboration was given to halls, reflecting the success of guilds, the growth of municipal self-awareness and urban identity. Until the Municipal Corporations Reform Act in 1835, boroughs (corporations), which were often based at guildhalls, acted as private bodies that existed for the benefit of their members rather than the community at large. The Act reformed the administration and accountability of incorporated boroughs and they subsequently gained greater municipal power and responsibility. This was reflected in the scale and architectural adornment of later guildhalls, which became high points of Victorian public architecture.
Watermen’s Hall is a fine example of a late 18th century guildhall, which survives well. It was built by one of the ancient City Guilds and is thought to be the only surviving original Georgian hall of its type in the City of London. Through its association with the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, it is a significant testament to the development of commercial activity and trade regulation in the city of London. Furthermore, the site is considered to contain archaeological and environmental information relating to Roman and medieval London.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 29 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes a late 18th century guildhall situated between Lovat Lane and St Mary at Hill, near Monument tube station in the city of London.
It is two storeys high and built of Portland stone with a copper mansard roof. The St Mary at Hill frontage has a rusticated ground storey with a round arched window at the centre flanked by squared-headed doorways with carved panels above. At first floor level are two pairs of Ionic pilasters supporting an entablature with a frieze and pediment rising through the parapet. At the centre is a large Venetian window with a coat of arms below and a fanlight above. The interior includes a vaulted entrance passage and a curved stone staircase. The Court Room on the first floor features pilasters and penditives rising to an enriched circular ceiling, and a carved marble fireplace with a coat of arms above.
The Company of Watermen and Lightermen was established by Act of Parliament in 1555. It was formed to regulate the movement of goods and passengers on the River Thames. The current hall was built between 1778 and 1780, and is thought to be the design of William Blackburn. It was extended to the north in 1786. An archaeological watching brief carried out in 1994 in the vicinity of Waterman’s Hall recorded Roman dump deposits behind the contemporary waterfront, as well as deposits associated with the Great Fire of London. Below ground archaeological and environmental remains are considered to survive under Waterman’s Hall, relating to Roman and medieval London, and are included in the scheduling.
Waterman’s Hall is Grade I listed.